Our wine experts have recommended some interesting Italian white wines to enjoy this spring. Here are six of the best we know you will enjoy drinking right the way into summer…
Italy is home to some of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world, and white wines hail from all corners of the country, making up 54 per cent of all wine production. The amount of white wine produced varies from region to region, with the top producers (in 2016) being Veneto, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Trentino-Alto Adige, Liguria and Lazio, where more than 70 per cent of their output is white wine; while down at the other end of the scale sit Tuscany (13 per cent) and Basilicata (18 per cent).
Within those rather stark statistics is the delicious truth that not all white wines are the same, as our selection proves. Given the wealth of grape varieties and diversity of growing conditions in Italy, there is a bottle to suit all palates. From the super-crisp Pinot Grigio of Friuli-Venezia Giulia to the fuller, sun-soaked Fiano and aromatic Greco of the south, there are many variations on the theme. We have stayed with still white wines this month, but if your palate tends towards something a little more animated, there are, of course, many Italian sparkling wines, from refined Franciacorta to Veneto’s Prosecco and the sweet dessert wine Moscato d’Asti.
Discovery of the month
From a tiny estate in Serralunga d’Alba comes this intriguing blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Nascetta (the only native grape in the Langhe). It’s like a fresh spring day in a glass, with a subtle floral perfume and crisp apples and newly cut grass on the palate. Bone-dry, with savoury notes and a mineral edge.
Pair with: A poached lemon sole, baked sea bream, steamed sea bass – any delicate fish dish would go well with this
From: Valvona & Crolla, £14.99
The best of the rest…
Taking its name from the woodlands that surround the Planeta vineyards at Ulmo in Sicily, this bright and breezy white is 100 per cent Grillo grape. Bursting with peach and tropical fruit aromas, it fulfils its fragrant promise in the glass with pineapple, tangerine and yet more peach on the palate. The juicy fruit is expertly balanced by a zesty citrus undertow, and it remains fresh and light to the last drop, with a pleasingly clean, medium finish.
Pair with: Fresh tomato salads and seafood such as grilled sea bass or prawns
From: Great Western Wine, £11.50
Alto Adige is in the far northern reaches of Italy and the steep vineyards here produce some of the most refined Pinot Grigios in the country. Heady citrus aromas on the nose give way to a white wine full of body. It balances a fruit-laden palate of peach, melon and pear with subtle minerality. There is even a hint of almond nuttiness in this complex and delicious wine with the crispest of long finishes.
Pair with: Drink on its own, or ideal with a sharing platter of fresh grilled sardines
From: Majestic Wine, £12.99 (£10.99 a bottle in a case of six)
The Antinori family have been producing wine in Tuscany for six centuries, as well as in their other territories in Piedmont, Lombardy, Puglia and Umbria – which is where this wine hails from. A classic in the Orvieto style, this medium-bodied white has blossom and citrus on the nose. It brims with peach and pineapple flavours wrapped in a tempered acidity that, with the promise of balmier evenings to come, makes it ideal for al fresco drinking.
Pair with: An antipasti plate of cured meats, olives and marinated artichokes
From: Nife is Life, £12.72
Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, Le Vigne, Faraone, Abruzzo 2016
Trebbiano is one of the most widely planted grapes in Italy, and is not always distinguished by its quality. However, the Faraone family produces traditional Trebbiano wines like this fine example. Pale gold in colour, this unoaked white is perfumed with flowers. Light-bodied, it is crisp and full of soft peach with a hint of rosemary. Well-rounded, it has a medium finish that yields delicate nuances of herb and citrus.
Pair with: Make a wild mushroom risotto or mushroom salad with hazelnut and pear
From: Berry Bros & Rudd, £15.75
The Garganega grapes for this elegant white wine are grown in selected vineyards on the hills of the commune of Gambellara, a Veneto region known for winemaking since Roman times. As you would expect from a Veneto wine, it is pale and interesting in the glass, with a crisp apple fragrance, softened by peachy, spicy notes on the palate. Deliciously dry and flinty with a long finish.
Pair with: Meat- or tomato-based pasta dishes to get the best from this wine
From: Noel Young Wines, £9.99